Only One Fly Fishing Kayak in Sights

| March 8, 2022

The Search for the Perfect Fly Ride Continues

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2 The SUV of Kayaks

Sitting on the floor of local sailing and kayak store, Mariner Sails Dallas, was a kayak that caught my kayak-wary eye. I wasn’t even there to see a kayak …

If you only knew how hard it is for a kayak to catch my eye? You would sit up and take note, here and now.

BonaFide Expedition EX123

The Bonafide Kayak company merged with three other kayak makers in 2019 – Native Watercraft, Liquidlogic Kayaks and Hurricane. The official line is, “joined forces,” but if you want to see a kayak website done right, visit NOW!

The EX123 caught my eye because it is a sit-inside fishing kayak, rare these days in the kayak fishing world. And it has a massive rear hatch for watertight storage. That effectively takes an open sit-inside kayak similar to the Native U12, and converts part of it into a closed kayak design*. And they do call it “the SUV of kayaks,” a very worthy description compared to so many other ships masquerading as kayaks these days (See the massive, and massively expensive Hobie Pro Angler that pushes the $5K envelope!).

The EX123 comes heaviest of all in my contenders at a rounded-off 65-pounds, and is just ugly enough (built in bow and stern handles – that blunt the arrow look) to be kind of cool. Colors never mattered to me until the truly ugly Old Town 119 canoe colors assaulted my senses – BAD. The EX123 comes in Lefty’s favorite color – chartreuse, or as they call it, “Venom!” That’s an emotional reach for a kayak that looks like it’s standing still even when it’s moving … it definitely looks like an old school SUV.

Surface area abounds, although I wish all companies would not bother with those sorry Scotty Rod Holder mounts and holes. They are just awful one-trick-ponies compared to Ram Mounts. According to their pros, you can easily stand in the 123, which Old Town stays away from claiming pretty much across the board. I cannot emphasize standing up enough!

SEATING – The seat on this kayak definitely reminds me of my Native U12 seat, and that is a very good thing! It looks right – good for big-ol-boys and skinny ass boys as well. It clicks out of the cockpit and can be your camp chair in a heartbeat. CLICK – If you want to watch a great run-through video on the Bonafide EX123. The video is already two-years-old, and I am betting changes are coming to the design. Why? Because they always DO change kayak designs to appeal to new markets.

Before you write the check though … there is significant clutter involved with their plastic dashboard in the cockpit (highlighted in the video as a selling point). Thankfully, that piece is removable, and although you’ll be losing a little functionality, my opinion is it is worth removing for fly line drop. Too bad it is not “optional,” as I imagine it adds $150-200 to the cost of this kayak. If someone made a simplified replacement? Wow! They would make some money!

*MAJOR GOOD FEATURE – Stern storage is blocked off with a bulkhead making it watertight from cockpit (floatation!) . Now, if the company is listening? How about the same treatment for front bow area? It would be small, but add access and even more function. (I will follow up on this potential later.)

While this kayak fits the kayak category, it is just “different” enough to be a lot like my old Native U12, and that is very appealing! If this does end up in the stable, I am going to go ahead and redesign it to reflect my current and future needs (wheelchair ramps anybody?). Actually, paddling my next ride at 70, would be in line with my past kayak ownerships – that lasted twelve years.


Since it is our Fly Fishing Wellness Wednesday, a few reminders before you run out and buy yourself one of these.

  • Get a checkup that includes heart monitoring
  • Beware of lifting this kind of weight. Ever heard of a hernia?
  • Always wear a PFD and especially when standing up inside!
  • Start off short and build long endurance. I have to do that every year because of living so far north!
  • Always let people know where you are going.
  • There’s a LONG LIST of more old folk advice I will bring out when I am doing video of the new ride.

Don’t forget to look back at the two other parts of this series!

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Category: Adventure, Equipment, Kayak, kayaking

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